[MARMAM] new publication: Giant petrels prey on depredating Sperm Whales

Jared Towers jrtowers at gmail.com
Sun May 31 14:33:11 PDT 2020


Hi colleagues,

There is some information below about an article my co-author and I
recently had published in Polar Biology for anyone who is interested.

REFERENCE: Towers JR, Gasco N. 2020. Giant petrels (*Macronectes* spp.)
prey on depredating sperm whales (*Physeter macrocephalus*). Polar Biology.
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-020-02687-2

ABSTRACT: Relationships between seabirds and cetaceans can vary from
symbiotic to predatory. At high latitude seas in the Southern Hemisphere,
giant petrels (*Macronectes* spp.) and male sperm whales (*Physeter
macrocephalus*) are often solitary, but commercial longlining for
Patagonian toothfish (*Dissostichus eleginoides*) provides consistent
feeding opportunities that result in persistent aggregations of both. From
~ 1997 to 2019, we opportunistically photographed 23 events where
individual giant petrels preyed on the flesh of live sperm whales that were
depredating from Patagonian toothfish longliners near South Georgia,
Crozet, and Kerguelen Islands. Both immature and adult southern (*M.
giganteus*) and northern (*M. halli*) giant petrels were implicated in
these predation events. Sperm whales reacted to attacks from one or more
giant petrels by sinking or flinching, and then arching, rolling, diving,
and snorkelling at the surface during subsequent predation attempts.
Depredating sperm whales will dive deep, fast, and for long periods which
can result in limited dive ability while replenishing oxygen stores at the
surface. This behaviour, and the relatively high density of both species
around longlining vessels may facilitate unique opportunities for giant
petrels to exploit live sperm whales that are not likely as common under
circumstances not sustained by longlining operations.

LINK: https://rdcu.be/b4wyX or e-mail jrtowers at gmail.com for a PDF.
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